Tag Archives: noir

Publishing: unmemory – A mystery game you can read. A noir novel you can play.

logopositivounmemorytrans

“An innovative proposal of interactive fiction that immerses you in the story through a masterful mix of puzzle and reading” – Iván Fernández Lobo, Founder & Managing Director at Gamelab.

A new storytelling format

unmemory lives at the intersection of literature and game, blending narrative, interactive means and game mechanics to immerse yourself in a thriller story of memories and revenge.

The Killer Kittens are a band of sexy thieves. Many are after their valuable loot but there is only one person in the world who knows where it is hidden: you. Everything would be fine if it wasn’t for a small detail: you can’t remember anything.

Use your logic, deduction and discovery skills to overcome challenging puzzles and move forward. Bring order to your memories to solve the mystery and discover an uncomfortable truth.

More information

http://unmemory.info
Instagram: @unmemory.game
Facebook: @unmemory.game

Support their KickStarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/unmemory/unmemory-a-text-based-game-an-interactive-escape-b

 

Preview: Shadow On Broadway (PC) ~ Let’s Solve This Demo!

Shadow on Broadway LogoOfficial website

Today we are going to talk about something quite unique. This game is created by a group of students and this is their first game. A more complete story can be read on their about page. The reason I decided to write an article about this game is because I tried to create games in the past with my friends. So, this story speaks to me. My games weren’t as fleshed out or developed as this game is. But, is this game any good or is this a project better left between friends and family of the developers? Let’s take an honest look at the game. I have beaten this demo three times, the first two levels are playable, so if you want the full game, you will have to follow them on Facebook for future updates. Also, as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article in the comment section down below.

Note: while I have beaten the game, I’m not going to label this as a review. I have chosen to label this as a preview since it’s a demo that shows off the first two levels of the game in an alpha stage.

A Mystery

Shadow on Broadway 1In this game, you play as a P.I. named Jack and you must find Nancy. Together with Genevieve, you find a lead on which gang has Nancy. So, you can start to look for her.

While the setup for the story isn’t unique, what matters is how the story is written. The writing is okay. I enjoy detective/crime stories but I have read better-written stories. That’s not to say that this story is bad, the pacing is great but there are things left unexplained and things that don’t really “click” with the overall presentation.

Most of the story will be told while the next level loads. This will happen in nice black and white drawn panels. They are displayed like you are reading a visual novel. If you aren’t interested in the story, you can skip it by clicking after the level loaded. The voice acting will keep playing if you clicked until the cutscene transitioned into the level, but the comic book way of presenting the story won’t progress.

Speaking of the voice acting, it’s decent. There were a few things that could be improved in terms of the voice acting. Sometimes the voice acting lacked the emotion or the needed “punch”. To avoid spoilers, I won’t give specific examples but you will hear it once or twice. But then again, this might be me being too critical of a free game made by a group of people who just released their first game. Since the sound quality is amazing when it comes to the voice acting. It’s just that additional “punch” that is lacking.

There are also subtitles that show up on the top of your screen when the characters are talking. The only thing that annoyed me about them is the fact that a lot of subtitles are missing the “.” at the end of the sentence. You also get a sort of tutorial, where the keys are explained. These show up above the health bar in red while you hear the sound of pressing keys on a typewriter while letter per letter is shown.

This brings me to the sound design. The soundtrack of this game is good. The music is good and helps a lot building the atmosphere. The sound effects are overall good with a few exceptions. The sound effects of hitting enemies and them dying is just bad.

The sound of hitting the enemies is just annoying. When I heard it the first time, I just imagined a room full of them and them dying all at the same time. The sound of the enemies dying didn’t fit the enemies at all.

Solving it

Shadow on Broadway 2The gameplay of this game is pretty good. You play either as Jack or Genevieve. Both have different abilities that are unique to them.

Jack can roll to dodge attacks and Genevieve has a few magical moves. Their moves are easy to get used too since the controls are responsive. Yet, I have a few complaints when it comes to the controls.

The first problem with the controls is something I’m annoyed by if games do this. I live in Belgium and we have an “AZERTY”-layout in our keyboards. Usually, the game rebinds the “WASD”-movement keys to “ZQSD” but this game doesn’t do that. Thankfully, I could use the arrow keys as a replacement but this made it awkward for me when I had to fight. Since my arms are so close to each other. Oh well.

This brings me right to my second problem. Because of that, some keys were too far from my fingers to use. This became a problem in the second level when I was playing around with the magic abilities of Genevieve.

And the final issue I have with the controls is the lack of a rebind option and the options menu. You can’t rebind the keys and the options menu for the “controls” only shows a few of the keys. This needs to be a bit more worked out.

This brings me to the menu system and the UI. Something I pay a lot of attention too. And in this game, the menu system is okay apart from two things. I think that when you open the pause menu, it should make the menu more the focus. Now, it’s just displayed on top of the level.  My second “issue” with the menu system is a very small one. But, why is there on every menu “return” used to return to the previous menu but in the sound menu it’s “back”?

A small suggestion for the sound menu is, when you mess around with the sliders, it would be nice if you hear a sample so you can tweak it to your liking.

Now, I’m sorry but the UI isn’t the prettiest of things in this game. Now, am I saying the art chosen for the HUD and everything is bad? No, not at all. The problem is that it doesn’t fit the presentation at all. It would make the game so much better if the HUD blends in with the presentation a bit more.

Close, but no cigar.

Shadow on Broadway 3Now, it might seem that this game is bad or mediocre. The thing is, the game is still in its early stages and it shows. I think it’s a wise move of the developers to put the game online and get as much feedback as they can to improve their game.

Something I really liked about the demo was the presentation. The atmosphere of the game is just perfect. The filter put onto the gameplay is pretty good. Yet, it bugs me that I still need to complain about something here. The animation still needs a lot of work. The animation of the first boss special attack is unfinished and the animation of some scripted events aren’t present yet. Which is a shame, since the character models are well made and detailed. But without things like lip synching or some more movement of the characters, while those scripted events play out, it gives the game a cheap and unfinished feel.

Since this demo is quite short and can be beaten in a few minutes, this game doesn’t have a save feature. In fact, I didn’t need a save feature in this demo since I never came close to dying. The demo is easy, some puzzles might stump you for a bit but a seasoned puzzle gamer will blast through them.  This doesn’t mean that the puzzles are bad, they are easy to figure out and they don’t slow down the gameplay.

Like I touched upon before, in this game you must explore and investigate an area. In this game, you must solve puzzles and defeat enemies. I just talked about the puzzles, so let’s talk about the combat. The combat is pretty good, it’s too bad that there weren’t more challenging situations in the demo to experiment more with the combat system of the game.

If the developers would use these two levels as the opening of the full version of the game, my only hope is that they make those two levels longer. It’s better to have a couple of longer levels than a bunch of short levels. Since it allows for more creativity instead of an incoherent mess of ideas. That’s my opinion.

In one of my playthroughs, a glitch stopped me in my tracks. The camera froze just before the cutscene of the 2nd boss but I could continue playing the game. Blindly. The glitch stopped me from pausing the game too. I tried to replicate it several times, but I can’t tell what caused it.

Thanks to this glitch, I learned that you can use your attacks during those scripted cutscenes. This was so nostalgic to me since you could do that in the old Tomb Raider games too.

I want to mention one other thing about the 2nd boss too. Dress his arena a bit more. In the scripted cutscene, you show us walking to him while he is sitting on a stage in a theatre. But, when the fight starts, it almost looks like you are in an ordinary room.

If I may give a final suggestion before I go to my conclusion, I think there is a missed opportunity in the game. I think it would be a good idea if you put “Demo / Alpha version” somewhere in the main menu or as a message when you start the game. Since otherwise, people might think that this is going to reflect on the full version and that might put off potential players.

My conclusion for this game is a simple one to make. I think the developers Team Noir are working on something interesting here. The game looks promising but lacks a lot of polish. The HUD doesn’t fit the atmosphere, the animation needs some work, the story needs a bit more depth… but the fundamentals are there.

I have played a lot of good and bad free games in my gaming life and this is getting so close to the good category. I honestly think they released the demo too soon. This game could have benefitted from more polish. I have played far worse games where the game bugs out or the controls lock up. That doesn’t happen in this game. Apart from one glitch I couldn’t reproduce or trigger for a second time, everything works in this game like it’s supposed to be.

The content of this demo promises an interesting game. Developing a game is hard and requires a lot of work and skill. Looking at this demo, it’s obvious that the skill is already there. It just needs some more work.

That’s everything I wanted to talk about in this game/demo. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then have a great rest of your day and take care!

First Impression: Coffe Noir (PC) ~ Detective Business Educational Game

caffeenoirOfficial website

It’s quite clear from the fact that I’m writing a gaming blog that I love games. I also work in a school secretary. Now, I came across this recently translated game that combines both worlds called Coffee Noir. Yes, this is an edutainment game. This game is developed by Doji Educational Innovations, a Poland-based company that specializes in educational and training tools. This game is browser based, so no installs needed. So, I have played this game for a few hours and I’ll describe in this article my thoughts about the game. This is my first impression of this game, which means I haven’t finished the game. As usual for my articles, feel free to write a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Solving that crime

caffeenoir1First, before I forget to mention, the version I played was the version that is meant for casual gamers. That’s also the version I linked at the start of this article. If you want to know more about the educational side of this game, feel free to visit this website.

In this game, you play as a private detective solving crimes. Your name is Arthur Oliver. You try to solve a disappearance case and you go undercover as a boss of a coffee producer to try and get in contact with the suspects who could have kidnapped your client.

In this game, you will learn a lot about various topics like business management, economics, negotiation and many other skills. The developers created a video with more information about the story and the game, which you can see here.

The original language of the game is Polish and it’s recently translated into English. Due to the high amounts of text, I can forgive some parts of the game not being translated. While I was playing this game, I screenshotted the areas where I still found some Polish and mailed them to the developers. They replied a day later and they said they are going to work on it.

Another issue that I ran into is that in multiple areas the textboxes overflow. What I mean by that is that the text continues outside the UI. It’s a shame since this game looks great visually. I also notified the developers of this issue and they said that they will work on that as well.

The presentation of this game is well done. It didn’t take long for me to find my way in the UI. When I wanted to adjust some sales settings, I had to click on “sales” and I was there. The only thing I couldn’t find easily is an overview page of all my income and expenses. That would be a great tool in this business simulation.

Visually, this game looks great. Most of this game looks like it’s drawn by hand. I like the art style that is used in the game. I sometimes forgot that this game is an educational game and I was enjoying myself and if you can achieve that, you know you are doing a good job.

Something I wasn’t too fond off is the music. Don’t understand me wrong, it’s good music, but there isn’t too much music in the game. And when I heard the same music track for the 6th time, I got bored with it. So, I muted the music and played my own music in the background. The sound effects in this game weren’t muted, and thankfully so, since they add so much atmosphere to the game.

Still in development

caffeenoir2If you visit their IndieGoGo campaign, a campaign they ran in 2016, they said that there is still much in the pipeline for this game. A year after the IndieGoGo campaign we got the English version of this game. Now that it is released, we will get one major new feature in late 2017 and that is voice acting.

That’s something that the version I played lacked. The game sometimes felt boring due to me clicking in some many menus and reading so much text. If there were more voice acting and more animation on screen, this game would be more interesting to casual players. But, we should wait and see before we give our final judgment.

Something I applaud in this game is the fact that the educational parts aren’t forced upon the player. If you want to try your own strategy to finish this game, you are free to try. The game doesn’t stop you with annoying math puzzles you must solve before you can continue. This is how edutainment should be, since this way you teach players about something and they have fun. An example is that when you want to train your employees, you must finish the short test to gain a bonus with that employee. Don’t worry, you get the chance to read through the theory before you take the test. I was also happy that I could access it in negotiations since I could look up terms and theory of things I didn’t know.

Another big plus in this game is the handbook and wiki. In the handbook, you can find many pages with usual information about psychology and other usual topics that can aid you in solving the case. While I studied economics in high school, I don’t know a lot about psychology. And this way I don’t have to look up all the information.

Also, the wiki is quite handy to have nearby. When I forgot how to do something or how something worked in the UI or what something meant, my answer wasn’t too far away in the wiki.

This game also has a tutorial. The tutorial itself is quite long and holds your hand throughout the whole process, it’s highly recommended that you go through with the tutorial since it teaches you the game mechanics. The first time I played this game, didn’t end well. I tested my skills without following the tutorial.

Opinion of a teacher

caffeenoir3

As I said in the introduction of this article, I work in a school. But I also have some experience in teaching classes. This game would be great to use in an economics class. I wonder if the educational version of this game is different since you could use this game in two very different classes and it would be a shame that teachers didn’t use this game. I can imagine that teachers don’t use this game because, for example, an economics teacher doesn’t want that students have to bother with psychology in the economic classes.

This game isn’t for everybody. If you don’t enjoy mystery games or tycoon games, I would skip this game. If the videos from the developers interest you, give this game a try. This game is rather interesting.

There is a lot of replay value in this game. Since you can tackle the business side of things in some many ways, each playthrough is different from the last. So, no playthrough will be the same. Unless you do it on purpose of course.

Before I wrap up this article, I want to thank Doji Interactive for giving me a free copy of this game to test out. Thank you for putting this game under my attention. I have been playing this game here and there and I have been enjoying myself. When I wrote this article, a lifetime account costs 9,99 USD which is extremely cheap for the content you get in my opinion. Before there is confusion, this isn’t a paid article.

Conclusion

This game has a lot of potentials. When I have more time, I certainly will finish this game. This will most likely happen in my summer break. Most things I missed in this game like voice acting are things on the to-do list of the developer.

So, this game will only keep improving in the future and I can’t wait to see where it goes. If you are interested in mystery games and tycoon games, I would highly recommend checking the official website of this game since it’s a great game in my opinion and I can’t wait how this game is going to evolve.

Before I say goodbye, I should add something. The developers told me that in the coming months, there will be some updates and patches to the game. Another reason to get excited about the future of this game!

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then take care and have a great rest of your day!